Pippa Mann: Championing Change
A valued part of the Walero family, Pippa Mann has been a shining light for female representation and inclusion throughout her career. We caught up with Pippa to chat about an extremely busy 2023, which has seen her race across the USA and compete at the legendary N24, and also how she uses her platforms to inspire the next generation of female racers!
How has 2023 been for you with regards to your on-track adventures and are there any particular moments that really stand out to you?
In 2023 I’ve competed in around 20 events with clients as their Pro/Co-driver in various ProAm series across America, and we stood on the podium or won in every series where I worked with and drove with a client this year. The highlight of my season was having the opportunity to return to the 24 hour race at the Nurburgring, driving for the Girls Only’ team for the third year running, competing this year in their new M4GT4 – a race were leading in our class until an incident in the night took us out of contention. I was also our fastest driver in the car this year – something you never expect as the “extra” driver for a 24 hour race somewhere like the Nurburgring!
Overall I was “on the road” on my way to, or a race tracks working with either private clients, or Corporate clients, and at racing events over 150 days this year.
What are the plans for racing in 2024 and beyond?
I’m still working to figure out who wants to race where, and at which events in 2024, so as I wait for my clients to make those decisions, my schedule is still a little in flux. The first past of 2024 is starting to come together, and I do hope to be back at the ring again for the 24 hour for the 4th year running too.
Beyond that my work as the CEO of Shift Up Now, where we work to try and help fund female Athletes in motorsport, keeps me ridiculously busy.
Tell us more about Shift Up Now – What is it, and what does your role entail?
Shift Up Now is my unpaid passion project. Our goal is to help bring sponsors, partners and financial support to talented female Athletes in motorsport, to give them the opportunities to compete with equal seat time, in equal equipment, and to give them equal opportunities.
When I was competing at the Indy 500, I always struggled to find any major sponsorship, and I was always trying to pull together any funding I could to make my programs happen. This meant I was always competing on the smaller teams, with no testing ahead of the event, and in at least one of the years I competed, my car was built with multiple components labeled “shaker rig only”. I was primary point of contact for the sponsors, could rarely afford help with the PR and social media side, and was regularly sleeping just 5-6 hours a night for the entire 2+ week period because there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, and try to get 8 hours of sleep. In 2019, my most successful year, where I raised the money funding, and had the best car underneath me I’ve ever had, I lost nearly 10lbs over the 2 weeks because I didn’t have time to eat…
I always through not being able to find the bigger sponsors was a “Pippa problem”. I needed to do better with the equipment I had, work harder outside the car, build better marketing decks, get endorsements from my sponsors, get endorsements from my engineers that I can wheel the heck out of a race car… Nothing worked.
However as I started to form friendships with more and more female drivers, I started to realize this wasn’t a “Pippa problem”, and that so many of us were running into the same issues. We started talking more to one another, trying to find ways to stand together in solidarity more with one another, and work together to see whether we can find ways to work together to solve the problems of trying to get more brands to back more women in our sport.
I took over running Shift Up Now, and relaunched it in December of 2020. This year we added Erin Vogel as our President, ran our first successful fund-raising campaign with our 501c3 – the Shift Up Now Foundation, and between our various partnerships with teams, brands, sponsors, and the Grants we were able to write from the Foundation, we helped 12 racers with some level of funding towards their 2023 seasons.
Sometimes these amounts are smaller, because we recognize that even paying for your travel, photography for your sponsors, or frankly, paying for your rent when you’re sacrificing all of this time to be at the race track.
For reference, even though I’m one of the lucky few who has found a way to earn her living in motorsport, where and when I race is always limited by what my clients would like to do, where whey would like to race, and what level they’re ready to compete at. And when I compete at the 24 hour race at the Ring, currently that’s a “free” ride rather than a situation where I get paid, meaning I have travel expenses to Europe to cover, and I’m giving up paying work here to be there too.
What can people do to support Shift Up Now?
One of the big things about running Shift Up Now, is that despite the amount of time both Erin Vogel and I give, is that there are still hard expenses involved in running a business that has a website, and is working to promote these racers across our various channels. Our goal is always to bring in enough income to Shift Up Now beyond sponsorship income that we can both afford to continue to run the business – because while I work hard, I don’t earn enough money that running Shift Up Now is sustainable without additional support.
Membership to Shift Up Now is one of our biggest sources of income that helps us survive and exist. We recently relaunched our Membership portal with Sarah Montgomery as our Director of Membership, and it costs people $10 per month, or $100 per year to be a Member. Admittedly almost all of the Perks – online events, giveaway items, discounts from brands we work with – are set up for an American audience, and it doesn’t benefit someone outside the US much at this time, but these are our core supporters, and we’re so grateful to them for helping us not only exist, but do the work we do.
We also added Corporate Membership to our Platform, where brands can pay $2,500 per year to sign up 5 people Members, have access to our Membership portal, work with us on social media promotions to our audience, and have their logo on our website and Membership portal as a brand who supports us. Obviously at that level of spend, it’s more about the support between the two brands, but those Corporate Members also allow us to run our new Membership platform, and help us pay Athletes for their time when we ask them to attend online Member events.
We also sell merchandise year round, and a few times per year we release “Limited Edition” T-shirts, which are normally only available for pre-order for a set period of time. So any time someone shops in our small store, again, those funds directly help us run Shift Up Now.
For those who prefer the idea or tax benefits of working with a 501c3, the Shift Up Now Foundation can accept donations year round at shiftupnow.org, and we’re working on some fund-raising campaign ideas for 2024 too.
Finally, any time people follow us, or our Athletes on social media, and engage with them by liking posts, leaving comment, or when people sign up for our mailing list, and then open and read our emails – all of this helps us when we’re talking to partners or potential partners, and that in turn helps us sign more deals, to bring more funding the table for our racers.
How much change have you observed in the approach to female representation in the sport as a whole?
It’s been fantastic to see more teams and brands taking an interest in female talent in motorsport, and these programs are fantastic, but very often these shoot-out style scenarios are aimed at finding “one” driver. At Shift Up Now, we believe in trying to help raise the tide for as many talented female Athletes in motorsport as possible.
Our goal would be to one day be big enough where we can bring title sponsorships to the table for our girls to compete in SRO, IMSA, IndyCar, NASCAR and on all of the various ladder systems appropriate.
Personally I haven’t given up on the goals of getting to race a GT3 car at the ring for the 24 hour race one year, or getting to compete at the Daytona 24 as one of the additional endurance drivers. And trust me, if I even find the funding to create a whole team, I’m taking as many of our girls with me as possible.
What are your favourite moments from your time as CEO of ShitUpNow?
This year Yokohama Tire worked with Shift Up Now to create a Shift Up Now livery for Ashley Freiberg’s 991.2 Porsche Cup Car, which she raced in Porsche Sprint Challenge. Seeing that livery on track, seeing it win races, and then seeing Ashley win a Championship was incredibly special. It’s the moments like that that make it all worth-while.